Never one to be outshined by Twitter, Facebook announced last week that they too have big plans for their data firehose. Facebook is opening up their API, and offering a new insights product called, Topic Data. Topic Data shows what users are saying on Facebook about events, brands, subjects and activities in an aggregated and anonymized way, allowing advertisers to see topic trends and themes and base marketing decisions on these timely conversations.
But don't go nerding out too much just yet. You'll likely have to wait for a while to gain access to Topic Data. For now, it's only being offered to a select few U.S. and U.K. advertisers through DataShift, a brand analytics platform. Broader availability will only happen "at a later date" after Facebook has had a chance to thoughtfully and deliberately iterate on topic data (read: determine how much revenue they can generate from it).
Still, when I put on my optimism cap, I get really excited about this announcement. Facebook's conversation data is a treasure trove of insights about consumer's mindsets, behaviors, needs and wants. This is invaluable information for marketers, which can help them to not only optimize Facebook paid and organic efforts, but also to guide other paid, owned and earned media campaigns, ensure they have enough inventory of popular products, tweak product design and features based on consumer feedback, provide better customer support, make operational changes and innumerable other enhancements. This is information that brands often pay a pretty penny to gather through other forums--surveys, focus groups, user testing--but Facebook has it all, without many of the fallacies of social default bias, stated intent, moderator bias, conscious thinking and other ambiguities of these research methods.
This isn't just useful for brand though. Consumers will benefit as well. When brands are more informed as to what consumers want, they are able to be more relevant, customized and personalized in their communications, thus providing more value to the end consumer. And providing valuable experiences is mutually benefits for both consumers and marketers alike.
I look forward to this "later date" when I can get my hands on some of this topic data, and help to create more valuable campaigns for clients and experiences for their customers. Let's fantasize about that day together--share how you'd use Topic Data for your brand on Facebook or Twitter.